Yuri Frusin and Helen Johnstone started the Garbage & the Flowers in the late '80s, enamored with the seemingly unattainable and lofty idea of being in a band. Taking their name from a Leonard Cohen lyric, Frusin played guitar and wrote most of the songs and Johnstone played viola and sang. The group's lineup and general status of existence would be nebulous for the rest of its duration, but originally Frusin and Johnstone were joined by drummer Torben Tilly, and as the years went on they'd go through phases of hiatus and resurgence, working with musicians including Paul Yates, Heath Cozens, Rachel Davies, Kristen Wineera, and Stuart Porter. The group's initial sound was closest to early Velvet Underground, with Johnstone's frenzied viola recalling John Cale's avant-garde freakouts. The Garbage & the Flowers played sporadically and released only a few compilation tracks and 7" singles in their earliest days. In 1997 they relocated to Sydney, Australia and continued to play out in a stop-start fashion. The double LP Eyes Rind as if Beggars, which collected their ramshackle home recordings and various live tracks into as cohesive a discography-like form as possible, arrived in 1997. The group continued into the 2000s and 2010s, gaining more supporters as more music fans dug into the history of both New Zealand's underground sounds and outsider music in general. Several cassette releases came about in the late 2000s, and 2011 saw the release of the Stoned Rehearsal LP, followed in 2013 by an expanded re-release of Eyes Rind as if Beggars. The band continued to play sporadically and record in the years that followed. In 2016, Grapefruit released The Deep Niche, a collection of songs predating Eyes Rind as if Beggars.
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